Waymire v. Norfolk & Western Railway Corp., No. 99-2788

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore Posner, Chief Judge and Bauer and Manion; Bauer
Citation218 F.3d 773
Decision Date14 July 2000
Docket NumberNo. 99-2788
Parties(7th Cir. 2000) Joseph J. WAYMIRE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Page 773

218 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2000)
Joseph J. WAYMIRE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 99-2788
In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Argued February 18, 2000
Decided July 14, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 97 C 1914--John D. Tinder, Judge.

Page 774

Before Posner, Chief Judge and Bauer and Manion, Circuit Judges.

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Joseph Waymire, a conductor for the defendant Norfolk and Western Railway Company ("N&W"), sued his employer under the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. sec.51 et seq., claiming that the post traumatic stress he suffered after a train/truck collision disabled him from continuing his employment. The District Court found that Waymire's FELA negligence claims were superseded by the Federal Railroad Safety Act ("FRSA"), 49 U.S.C. sec.20101 et seq., and entered summary judgment in favor of N&W. Waymire appeals. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 8, 1996, Waymire was the conductor on an N&W train that collided with a truck stopped on N&W's tracks at the McGalliard Road crossing in Muncie, Indiana. Waymire was not physically injured in the collision, but he claims that as a result of the accident he developed post traumatic stress syndrome and is completely disabled from employment. The driver of the truck suffered only scrapes and bruises.

Waymire sued N&W under FELA, claiming that the railroad company's negligence in allowing the train to travel at an unsafe speed and in failing to install additional warning devices at the crossing caused or contributed to cause the accident.1 Just prior to the collision, the train was traveling 20 to 23 miles per hour, well below the 60 miles per hour speed limit set by FRSA and the regulations promulgated thereunder. Furthermore, at the time of the accident, the McGalliard Road crossing was equipped with federally funded, installed and approved warning devices, including cantilevered flashing warning signals that gave advance warning of an approaching train, pavement markings indicating the presence of railroad tracks, and a "DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS" sign that motorists had to pass before reaching the tracks.

Page 775

Arguing that its compliance with FRSA precluded Waymire's negligence claims under FELA, N&W moved for summary judgment. The District Court considered the statutes and ruled that FRSA and regulations promulgated thereunder defeated plaintiff's allegations of unsafe train speed and inadequate warning devices in his FELA negligence action. We agree and affirm the District Court.

II. DISCUSSION

We review the District Court's grant of summary judgment de novo, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Waymire. Williams v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 161 F.3d 1059, 1061 (7th Cir. 1998). If we find there is no genuine issue of material fact and that N&W is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we will affirm the District Court's judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Here, there are no genuine issues of material fact and our inquiry focuses on the application of the law to the facts.

A. Unsafe Speed Claim

In 1908, Congress enacted the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. sec.51, et seq., to provide a remedy to railroad employees injured as a result of their employers' negligence. Kossman v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp., 211 F.3d 1031, 1035 (7th Cir. 2000). FELA imposes on railroads "a general duty to provide a safe workplace," McGinn v. Burlington Northern Railroad Company, 102 F.3d 295, 300 (7th Cir. 1996)

Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States . . . shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce . . . for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents or employees of such carrier . . .

45 U.S.C. sec.51.

As a general negligence statute, FELA neither prohibits nor requires specific conduct by a railroad. By contrast, the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, 49 U.S.C. sec.20101 et seq., proscribes railroad conduct by empowering the Secretary of Transportation to implement comprehensive and detailed railroad safety regulations. 49 U.S.C. sec.20103 ("The Secretary of Transportation, as necessary, shall prescribe regulations and issue orders for every area of railway safety."). The question with which we are presented is whether a railroad company can be liable in a FELA negligence action claiming unsafe speed and inadequate warning devices when the complained of conduct complies with the conduct mandated by FRSA and its regulations. We hold that it cannot.

The vast majority of courts examining lawsuits arising out of automobile/train collisions do so under state law.2 Thus, the courts employ a preemption analysis. We do not do...

To continue reading

Request your trial
101 practice notes
  • Grogg v. Csx Transp., Inc., Cause No. 1:07-CV-222.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • 14 Septiembre 2009
    ...that provisions of the FRSA may preclude certain claims brought by railroad employees. Waymire v. Norfolk Page 1011 & Western Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 777 (7th Cir.2000). It is also true that the LIA can have the same preclusive impact on certain types of claims. Becraft v. Norfolk Southern R......
  • Fair v. BNSF Ry. Co., F068769
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 30 Junio 2015
    ...to implement comprehensive and detailed railroad safety regulations. (Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co. (7th Cir. 2000) 218 F.3d 773, 775 (Waymire ); 49 U.S.C. § 20103.) The Secretary of Transportation has delegated this authority to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). (Union Pa......
  • Powell v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. CIV. S–09–1857 KJM–CKD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 31 Marzo 2012
    ...Inc., 560 F.3d 426, 428 (6th Cir.2009); Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir.2000). This issue is not settled within the Ninth Circuit, however. See Allenbaugh v. BNSF Ry. Co., 832 F.Supp.2d 1260, 1267–68......
  • Nickels v. Grand Trunk Western R.R., Inc., No. 07-1736.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • 18 Marzo 2009
    ...state law negligence claim."3 Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); see also Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Dissimilar treatment of the claims would have the untenable result of making the railroad safety regulations established under the F......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
101 cases
  • Grogg v. Csx Transp., Inc., Cause No. 1:07-CV-222.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • 14 Septiembre 2009
    ...that provisions of the FRSA may preclude certain claims brought by railroad employees. Waymire v. Norfolk Page 1011 & Western Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 777 (7th Cir.2000). It is also true that the LIA can have the same preclusive impact on certain types of claims. Becraft v. Norfolk Southern R......
  • Fair v. BNSF Ry. Co., F068769
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 30 Junio 2015
    ...to implement comprehensive and detailed railroad safety regulations. (Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co. (7th Cir. 2000) 218 F.3d 773, 775 (Waymire ); 49 U.S.C. § 20103.) The Secretary of Transportation has delegated this authority to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). (Union Pa......
  • Powell v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. CIV. S–09–1857 KJM–CKD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 31 Marzo 2012
    ...Inc., 560 F.3d 426, 428 (6th Cir.2009); Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir.2000). This issue is not settled within the Ninth Circuit, however. See Allenbaugh v. BNSF Ry. Co., 832 F.Supp.2d 1260, 1267–68......
  • Nickels v. Grand Trunk Western R.R., Inc., No. 07-1736.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • 18 Marzo 2009
    ...state law negligence claim."3 Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); see also Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Dissimilar treatment of the claims would have the untenable result of making the railroad safety regulations established under the F......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT